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Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN

Reviewers: Academy Nutrition Information Services Team

Published: October 07, 2021

Reviewed: November 28, 2023

Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an ideal time to learn how to reduce your risk by eating right and engaging in physical activity. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing it and boost your odds of full recovery if you are diagnosed with it.

Both men and women may develop breast cancer but women are at a higher risk. Although some risk factors can’t be controlled, such as family history, gene mutations, onset of menstruation and menopause, other risk factors can be reduced by focusing on nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Weight is closely connected with breast cancer risk and risk increases for those with overweight or obesity after reaching menopause. Engaging in regular physical activity is associated with reduced breast cancer risk and is one way to help promote a healthy body weight. For optimal health, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity most days of the week.

Certain foods — those high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients — may help protect against some cancers. These foods include a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, such as:

  • Cruciferous and dark, leafy green vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and kale
  • Fruits: Citrus, berries, pomegranate and cherries
  • Whole grains: Oats, whole grain barley, bulgur, whole rye and whole-grain breads and cereals
  • Legumes: Beans and peas, lentils and soybeans

Alcohol intake is linked with breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society suggests women at risk of breast cancer may want to avoid consuming alcohol altogether. Females of legal age who choose to drink, should limit their intake to no more than one serving of alcohol per day. A serving of alcohol is considered 1½ fluid ounces of hard liquor, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 12 fluid ounces of beer.

To learn more about healthful eating to reduce your risk of breast cancer and other diseases, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist.

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